Allan Glen’s 12, Newton Stewart 27
Last week’s Shield win against Oban Lorne should have built confidence for the Reds to carry with them to the Bearyards to face Allan Glen’s in the opening fixture of the RBS West Division 1.
However, some 20 minutes into this encounter, Newton Stewart had barely exited their own half and Allan Glen’s were the dominant force. The home forwards had come out of the blocks with a vengeance and with a 20-minute onslaught their rewards should have been more than a single converted try courtesy of their centres.
The Reds struggled to get any ball and with McMillan collecting an early yellow for a high tackle, any hopes of leaving their own half were dispelled while the strong running centre did his sentence. Fortunately, Allan Glen’s’ exuberance extended to their defensive play and when the Reds did move upfield, the home side were penalised on numerous occasions for slowing the ball at the breakdown.
On resumption of full strength, the Reds managed to put some passes together and make a territorial advance into opposition territory and the balance of play see-sawed back to an even share of possession and territory.
Newton’s defensive tackling was a bit wishy-washy and in attack the backs were a bit static when receiving the ball but with the home side having given their best and with Jack Ritchie kicking a penalty for the visitors, half-time arrived with only a four-point deficit at 7-3.
Some tactical substitutions from a quality bench early in the second half would see Newton Stewart produce one of their best second-half performances for a long time.
Ben Haigh replaced Richard Fiskin at hooker, David Montgomery joined the fray at centre, with Jamie Muir moving to wing, and Gary McDonald entering and exiting the game as and when required to disrupt what was a reasonable Glen’s scrum.
From there on the entertainment value sky-rocketed as the Reds’ backs ran amok. Graham McMillan opened up the home side’s defence with a try and the quality centre was certainly one for the man of the match nomination.
Haigh was on his usual mission of running over people and the Glen’s defence had no reply to the hooker’s solo effort from the twenty-two. Try three came courtesy of new recruit David Montgomery, who also deservedly took the man of the match award for a fine display of both power and skill from his centre position. The well-built youngster had the home side’s defence left with little appetite for stopping the runaway centre but some well-timed offloads moved the ball wide to afford opportunities to the wingers and, with a little bit more guile, Liam Brawl could have put his name on the score sheet.
Likwewise, Tyrell Wilson from fullback was also stretching his legs, and the Glen’s defence, but again that last step was missing and he would have to leave Newton’s fourth try to William McCornick for a solo run from the halfway line and with Ritchie converting the score board had exploded and the game was effectively won.
Newton’s work was done but for some reason they entered a closing 15-minute spell which would see them back in their own half and for long periods on their own line. Repeated penalty awards offered a hint of a lifeline to the home side and with Ross Vance picking up a yellow for his illegal attempts to disrupt a try scoring opportunity the Glen’s lads never gave up. But they could only muster a single unconverted try from their concerted pressure and Newton left the Bearyards at Bishopbriggs in ebullient mood.
This can only bode well for this week’s encounter with Glasgow Accies, who had a convincing win over Kilmarnock last week but not after a tense affair up to the closing 15 minutes or so.
Team: J Vance, R Fiskin, I Matier, R Vance, M Adams (captain), W McCornick, J Wallace, A Gaw, R McCornick, J Ritchie, J McWhirter, J Muir, G McMillan, L Broll, T Wilson. Reps: B Haigh, G McDonald, K Wright, D Montgomery.
Man of the match: D Montgomery